Croatia, is a unitary democratic parliamentary republic in Europe at the crossroads of Central Europe, the Balkans, and the Mediterranean. Its capital and largest city is Zagreb. The country is divided into 20 counties and the city of Zagreb. Croatia covers 56,594 square kilometres (21,851 square miles) and has diverse, mostly continental and Mediterranean climates. Croatia's Adriatic Sea coast contains more than a thousand islands(SONY PCG-5G2L battery). The country's population is 4.29 million, most of whom are Croats, with the most common religious denomination being Roman Catholicism.
In the early 7th century the Croats arrived in the area of present-day Croatia. They organised the state into two duchies by the 9th century. Tomislav became the first king by 925 AD, elevating Croatia to the status of a kingdom. The Kingdom of Croatia retained its sovereignty for nearly two centuries, reaching its peak during the rule of Kings Peter Krešimir IV and Dmitar Zvonimir(SONY PCG-5G3L battery). Croatia entered a personal union with Hungary in 1102. In 1527, faced with Ottoman conquest the Croatian Parliament elected Ferdinand I of the House of Habsburg to the Croatian throne. In 1918, after World War I, Croatia was included in the short-lived State of Slovenes, Croats, and Serbs which seceded from Austria–Hungary and merged into the Kingdom of Yugoslavia. A fascist Croatian puppet state existed during World War II. After the war(SONY PCG-F305 battery), Croatia became a founding member and a federal constituent of Second Yugoslavia, a socialist state. In June 1991, Croatia declared independence, which came into effect on 8 October of the same year. The Croatian War of Independence was fought successfully during the four years following the declaration.
Croatia today has a very high Human Development Index. The International Monetary Fund classified Croatia as an emerging and developing economy(SONY PCG-5J1L battery), and the World Bank identified it as a high income economy. Croatia is a member of the United Nations, the Council of Europe, NATO, the World Trade Organization, CEFTA and a founding member of the Union for the Mediterranean. Croatia is an acceding state of the European Union, with full membership expected in July 2013. As an active participant in the UN peacekeeping forces(SONY PCG-5J2L battery), Croatia has contributed troops to the NATO-led mission in Afghanistan and took a non-permanent seat on the UN Security Council for the 2008–2009 term.
The service sector dominates Croatia's economy, followed by the industrial sector and agriculture. Tourism is a significant source of revenue during the summer, with Croatia ranked the 18th most popular tourist destination in the world. The state controls a part of the economy, with substantial government expenditure(SONY PCG-5K2L battery). The European Union is Croatia's most important trading partner. Since 2000, the Croatian government has invested in infrastructure, especially transport routes and facilities along the Pan-European corridors. Internal sources produce a significant portion of energy in Croatia; the rest is imported. Croatia provides a universal health care system and free primary and secondary education(SONY PCG-5L1L battery), while supporting culture through numerous public institutions and through corporate investments in media and publishing. The nation prides itself in its cultural, artistic and scientific contributions to the world, as well as in its cuisine, wines and sporting achievements.
The name of Croatia derives from Medieval Latin Croātia, from Dux Croatorum ("Duke of Croatians") attested in the Branimir Inscription, itself a derivation of North-West Slavic *Xrovat-, by liquid metathesis from proposed Common Slavic period *Xorvat-(SONY PCG-6S2L battery), from proposed Proto-Slavic *Xarwāt- (*Xъrvatъ) or *Xŭrvatŭ (*xъrvatъ). The origin of the name is uncertain, but is thought to be a Gothic or Indo-Aryan term assigned to a Slavic tribe. The oldest preserved record of the Croatian ethnonym *xъrvatъ is of variable stem, attested in the Baška tablet in style zvъnъmirъ kralъ xrъvatъskъ ("Zvonimir, Croatian king").(SONY PCG-6S3L battery)
The first attestation of the Latin term is attributed to a charter of duke Trpimir from the year 852. The original is lost, and just a 1568 copy is preserved—leading to doubts on the authenticity of the claim. The oldest preserved stone inscription is the 9th century Branimir Inscription (found near Benkovac), where Duke Branimir is styled as Dux Cruatorvm. The inscription is not dated accurately, however, Branimir ruled Croatia in 879–892. (SONY PCG-6V1L battery)
Prehistory and antiquity
Main articles: Prehistoric Croatia, Illyria, and Dalmatia (Roman province)
Tanais Tablet B, name Khoroáthos highlighted.
The area known as Croatia today was inhabited throughout the prehistoric period. Fossils of Neanderthals dating to the middle Palaeolithic period have been unearthed in northern Croatia, with the most famous and the best presented site in Krapina. Remnants of several Neolithic and Chalcolithic cultures were found in all regions of the country. The largest proportion of the sites is in the northern Croatia river valleys, and the most significant cultures whose presence was discovered include Starčevo, Vučedol and Baden cultures. (SONY PCG-6W1L battery) The Iron Age left traces of the early Illyrian Hallstatt culture and the Celtic La Tène culture.
Much later, the region was settled by Liburnians and Illyrians, while the first Greek colonies were established on the islands of Korčula, Hvar and Vis. In 9 AD the territory of today's Croatia became part of the Roman Empire. Emperor Diocletian built a large palace in Split when he retired in AD 305. (SONY PCG-7111L battery) During the 5th century, one of the last Emperors of the Western Roman Empire, Julius Nepos, ruled his small empire from the palace. The period ends with Avar and Croat invasions in the first half of the 7th century and destruction of almost all Roman towns. Roman survivors retreated to more favourable sites on the coast, islands and mountains. The city of Dubrovnik was founded by such survivors from Epidaurum. (SONY PCG-71511M battery)
The ethnogenesis of Croats is uncertain and there are several competing theories, Slavic and Iranian being the most frequently put forward. The most widely accepted of these, the Slavic theory, proposes migration of White Croats from the territory of White Croatia during the Migration Period. Conversely, the Iranian theory proposes Iranian origin, based on Tanais Tablets containing Greek inscription of given names Χορούαθ[ος] (SONY PCG-6W3L battery), Χοροάθος and Χορόαθος (Khoroúathos, Khoroáthos, and Khoróathos) and their interpretation as anthroponyms of Croatian people.
Baška tablet, the oldest evidence of the glagolitic script.
According to the work De Administrando Imperio written by the 10th-century Byzantine Emperor Constantine VII, the Croats had arrived in what is today Croatia in the early 7th century, however that claim is disputed and competing hypotheses date the event between the 6th and the 9th centuries. (SONY PCG-7113L battery) Eventually two dukedoms were formed—Duchy of Pannonia and Duchy of Dalmatia, ruled by Ljudevit Posavski and Borna, as attested by chronicles of Einhard starting in 818. The record represents the first document of Croatian realms, vassal states of Francia at the time. The Frankish overlordship ended during the reign of Mislav two decades later. According to the Constantine VII christianization of Croats began in the 7th century, but the claim is disputed and generally christianization is associated with the 9th century. The first native Croatian ruler recognised by the Pope was duke Branimir, whom Pope John VIII referred to as Dux Croatorum ("Duke of Croats") in 879. (SONY PCG-7133L battery)
The walls of Dubrovnik, which helped the defence of Dubrovnik in the Middle Ages and the 1991–1992 siege
Tomislav was the first ruler of Croatia who was styled a king in a letter from the Pope John X, dating kingdom of Croatia to year 925. Tomislav defeated Hungarian and Bulgarian invasions, spreading the influence of Croatian kings. The medieval Croatian kingdom reached its peak in the 11th century during the reigns of Petar Krešimir IV (1058–1074) (SONY PCG-7Z1L battery) and Dmitar Zvonimir (1075–1089). When Stjepan II died in 1091 ending the Trpimirović dynasty, Ladislaus I of Hungary claimed Croatian crown. Opposition to the claim led to a war and personal union of Croatia and Hungary in 1102, ruled by Coloman.
For the next four centuries, the Kingdom of Croatia was ruled by the Sabor (parliament) and a Ban (viceroy) appointed by the king. The period saw increasing threat of Ottoman conquest and struggle against the Republic of Venice for control of coastal areas. The Venetians gained control over most of Dalmatia by 1428(SONY PCG-7Z2L battery) , with exception of the city-state of Dubrovnik which became independent. Ottoman conquests led to the 1493 Battle of Krbava field and 1526 Battle of Mohács, both ending in decisive Ottoman victories. King Louis II died at Mohács, and in 1527, the Parliament on Cetin chose Ferdinand I of the House of Habsburg as new ruler of Croatia, under the condition that he provide protection to Croatia against the Ottoman Empire while respecting its political rights(SONY PCG-8Y1L battery). The period saw rise of native nobility such as the Frankopans and the Šubićs to prominence and ultimately numerous Bans from the two families. In practice Croatia was a free and independent kingdom only from 910 till 1102.
Habsburg Monarchy and Austria-Hungary
Main articles: Kingdom of Croatia (Habsburg), Croatian–Ottoman Wars, and Austria-Hungary
Ban Josip Jelačić fought Hungarians in 1848 and 1849
Following the decisive Ottoman victories, Croatia was split into civilian and military territories, with the partition formed in 1538(SONY PCG-8Y2L battery). The military territories would become known as the Croatian Military Frontier and were directly controlled by the Austrian emperor. Ottoman advances in the Croatian territory continued until the 1593 Battle of Sisak, the first decisive Ottoman defeat, and stabilisation of borders. During the Great Turkish War (1667–1698), Slavonia was regained but western Bosnia, which had been part of Croatia before the Ottoman conquest, remained outside Croatian control. (SONY PCG-8Z2L battery) The present-day border between the two countries is a remnant of this outcome. Dalmatia, the southern part of the border, was similarly defined by the Fifth and the Seventh Ottoman–Venetian Wars. The Ottoman wars instigated great demographic changes. Croats migrated towards Austria and the present-day Burgenland Croats are direct descendants of these settlers. (SONY PCG-8Z1L battery) To replace the fleeing Croats the Habsburgs called on the Orthodox populations of Bosnia and Serbia to provide military service in the Croatian Military Frontier. Serb migration into this region peaked during the Great Serb Migrations of 1690 and 1737–39.
Between 1797 and 1809 the First French Empire gradually occupied the entire eastern Adriatic coastline and a substantial part of its hinterland, ending the Venetian and the Ragusan republics, establishing the Illyrian Provinces. In response the Royal Navy started the blockade of the Adriatic Sea leading to the Battle of Vis in 1811. (SONY PCG-7112L battery) The Illyrian Provinces were captured by the Austrians in 1813, and absorbed by the Austrian Empire following the Congress of Vienna in 1815. This led to formation of the Kingdom of Dalmatia and restoration of the Croatian Littoral to the Kingdom of Croatia, now both under the same crown. (SONY PCG-6W2L battery)
The 1830s and 1840s saw romantic nationalism inspired the Croatian National Revival, a political and cultural campaign advocating unity of all South Slavs in the empire. Its primary focus was establishment of a standard language as a counterweight to Hungarian, along with promotion of Croatian literature and culture. During the Hungarian Revolution of 1848 Croatia sided with the Austrians, Ban Josip Jelačić helping defeat the Hungarian forces in 1849(SONY PCG-5K1L battery), and ushering a period of Germanization policy. By the 1860s, failure of the policy became apparent, leading to the Austro-Hungarian Compromise of 1867 and creation of a personal union between the crowns of the Austrian Empire and the Kingdom of Hungary. The treaty left the issue of Croatia's status to Hungary, and the status was resolved by the Croatian–Hungarian Settlement of 1868(SONY VGP-BPS8 battery), when kingdoms of Croatia and Slavonia were united. The Kingdom of Dalmatia remained under de facto Austrian control, while Rijeka retained the status of Corpus separatum introduced in 1779. After Austria-Hungary occupied Bosnia and Herzegovina following the 1878 Treaty of Berlin, the Croatian Military Frontier was abolished and the territory returned to Croatia in 1881, pursuant to provisions of the Croatian-Hungarian settlement. (SONY VGP-BPS8A battery)Renewed efforts to reform Austria-Hungary, entailing federalisation with Croatia as a federal unit, were stopped by advent of World War I.
Kingdom of Yugoslavia and World War II
Main articles: Creation of Yugoslavia, Kingdom of Yugoslavia, Banovina of Croatia, Independent State of Croatia, and Yugoslav Front
On 29 October 1918 the Croatian Sabor declared independence and decided to join the newly formed State of Slovenes(SONY VGP-BPL8 battery), Croats and Serbs, which in turn entered into union with the Kingdom of Serbia on 4 December 1918 to form the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes. The 1921 constitution defining the country as a unitary state and abolition of historical administrative divisions effectively ended Croatian autonomy. The new constitution was opposed by the most widely supported national political party—the Croatian Peasant Party (HSS) led by Stjepan Radić. (SONY VGP-BPS9 battery) The political situation deteriorated further as Radić was assassinated in the National Assembly in 1928, leading to the dictatorship of King Alexander in January 1929. The dictatorship formally ended in 1931 when the king imposed a more unitarian constitution, and changed the name of the country to Yugoslavia. The HSS, now led by Vladko Maček, continued to advocate federalization of Yugoslavia, resulting in the Cvetković–Maček Agreement of August 1939 and(SONY VGP-BPS9/S battery) the autonomous Banovina of Croatia. The Yugoslav government retained control of defence, internal security, foreign affairs, trade, and transport while other matters were left to the Croatian Sabor and a crown-appointed Ban.
In April 1941, Yugoslavia was occupied by Germany and Italy. Following the invasion the territory, parts of Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the region of Syrmia were incorporated into the Independent State of Croatia (NDH) (SONY VGP-BPS9A battery), a Nazi-backed puppet state. Parts of Dalmatia were annexed by Italy and the northern Croatian regions of Baranja and Međimurje were annexed by Hungary. The NDH regime was led by Ante Pavelić and ultranationalist Ustaše. The regime introduced anti-semitic laws and conducted a campaign of ethnic cleansing and genocide against Serb and Roma inhabitants of the NDH, exemplified by the Jasenovac and Stara Gradiška concentration camps. (SONY VGP-BPS9A/B battery) It is estimated that out of 39,000 Jews in the country only 9,000 survived; the rest were either killed or deported to Germany, both by the local authorities and the German Army itself. Croatian and Serbian sources disagree on the exact figures. Furthermore a total of around 320,000 to 334,000 Serbs were estimated to have been killed in the territory of present-day Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina—roughly corresponding to NDH territory, of all causes(SONY VGP-BPS9/B battery) - either by the regime, as members of armed resistance, or as Axis collaborators. In total the estimated number of Serb casualties throughout Yugoslavia in the war was around 537,000. At the same time, around 200,000 Croats were estimated to have been killed during World War II, likewise in various roles.
Franjo Tuđman, 1st President of Croatia
A resistance movement soon emerged. On 22 June 1941 the 1st Sisak Partisan Detachment was formed near Sisak, as the first military unit formed by a resistance movement in occupied Europe. (SONY VGP-BPS9A/S battery) This sparked the beginning of the Yugoslav Partisan movement, a communist multi-ethnic anti-fascist resistance group led by Josip Broz Tito. The movement grew rapidly and at the Tehran Conference in December 1943 the Partisans gained recognition from the Allies. With Allied support in logistics, equipment, training and air power, and with the assistance of Soviet troops taking part in the 1944 Belgrade Offensive, Partisans gained control of Yugoslavia and border regions of Italy and Austria by May 1945(SONY VGP-BPL9 battery). Political aspirations of the movement were reflected in the ZAVNOH (National Anti-Fascist Council of the People's Liberation of Croatia), which developed in 1943 as the bearer of Croatian statehood and later transformed into the Parliament of Croatia in 1945, and AVNOJ—its counterpart at Yugoslav level.
Federal Yugoslavia and independence
Main articles: Socialist Republic of Croatia and Croatian War of Independence
After the World War II, Croatia became a single-party Socialist federal unit of the SFR Yugoslavia, ruled by the Communists(SONY VGP-BPS10 battery), but enjoying a degree of autonomy within the federation. In 1967, Croatian authors and linguists published a Declaration on the Status and Name of the Croatian Standard Language demanding greater autonomy for Croatian language. The declaration contributed to a national movement seeking greater civil rights and decentralization of the Yugoslav economy, culminating in the Croatian Spring of 1971, suppressed by Yugoslav leadership. (SONY VGP-BPL10 battery) Still, the 1974 Yugoslav Constitution gave increased autonomy to federal units, basically fulfilling a goal of the Croatian Spring, and providing a legal basis for independence of the federative constituents.
A Yugoslav tank destroyed during the Battle of Vukovar
In the 1980s the political situation in Yugoslavia deteriorated with national tension fanned by the 1986 Serbian SANU Memorandum and the 1989 coups in Vojvodina, Kosovo and Montenegro. (SONY VGP-BPS11 battery) In January 1990, the Communist Party fragmented along national lines, with the Croatian faction demanding a looser federation. In the same year, the first multi-party elections were held in Croatia, with Franjo Tuđman's win raising nationalist tensions further. Serbs in Croatia left Sabor and declared the autonomy of areas that would soon become the unrecognized Republic of Serbian Krajina, intent on achieving independence from Croatia. (SONY VGP-BPL11 battery) As tensions rose, Croatia declared independence in June 1991, however the declaration came into effect on 8 October 1991.
The tensions escalated into the Croatian War of Independence when the Yugoslav National Army and various Serb paramilitaries attacked Croatia. By the end of 1991, a high intensity war fought along a wide front reduced Croatia to control of about two-thirds of its territory. On 15 January 1992(SONY VGP-BPL12 battery), Croatia gained diplomatic recognition by the European Economic Community members, and subsequently the United Nations. The war effectively ended in 1995 with a decisive victory by Croatia in August 1995. The remaining occupied areas were restored to Croatia pursuant to the Erdut Agreement of November 1995, with the process concluded in January 1998. (SONY VGP-BPS12 battery)
Topographic map of Croatia
Croatia is located in Central and Southeast Europe, bordering Hungary to the northeast, Serbia to the east, Bosnia and Herzegovina to the south-east, Montenegro to the south-east, the Adriatic Sea to the south-west and Slovenia to the northwest. It lies mostly between latitudes 42° and 47° N and longitudes 13° and 20° E. Part of the territory in the extreme south surrounding Dubrovnik is a practical exclave connected to the rest of the mainland by territorial waters(SONY VGP-BPS13 battery), but separated on land by a short coastline strip belonging to Bosnia and Herzegovina around Neum.
The territory covers 56,594 square kilometres (21,851 square miles), consisting of 56,414 square kilometres (21,782 square miles) of land and 128 square kilometres (49 square miles) of water. It is the 127th largest country in the world. Elevation ranges from the mountains of the Dinaric Alps with the highest point of the Dinara peak at 1,831 metres (6,007 feet) near the border with Bosnia and Herzegovina in the south(SONY VGP-BPS13Q battery) to the shore of the Adriatic Sea which makes up its entire south-west border. Insular Croatia consists of over a thousand islands and islets varying in size, 48 of which are permanently inhabited. The largest islands are Cres and Krk, each of them having an area of around 405 square kilometres (156 square miles) (SONY VGP-BPS13A/Q battery).
The hilly northern parts of Hrvatsko Zagorje and the flat plains of Slavonia in the east (which is part of the Pannonian Basin) are traversed by major rivers such as Sava, Drava, Kupa and Danube. The Danube, Europe's second longest river, runs through the city of Vukovar in the extreme east and forms part of the border with Serbia(SONY VGP-BPS13B/Q battery). The central and southern regions near the Adriatic coastline and islands consist of low mountains and forested highlands. Natural resources found in the country in quantities significant enough for production include oil, coal, bauxite, low-grade iron ore, calcium, gypsum, natural asphalt, silica, mica, clays, salt and hydropower. (SONY VGP-BPS13/B battery)
Karst topography makes up about half of Croatia and is especially prominent in the Dinaric Alps. There are a number of deep caves in Croatia, 49 of which are deeper than 250 m (820.21 ft), 14 of them deeper than 500 m (1,640.42 ft) and three deeper than 1,000 m (3,280.84 ft). Croatia's most famous lakes are the Plitvice lakes, a system of 16 lakes with waterfalls connecting them over dolomite and limestone cascades. The lakes are renowned for their distinctive colours, ranging from turquoise to mint green, grey or blue. (SONY VGP-BPS13B/B battery)
Plitvice Lakes National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site
Most of Croatia has a moderately warm and rainy continental climate as defined by the Köppen climate classification. Mean monthly temperature ranges between −3 °C (27 °F) (in January) and 18 °C (64 °F) (in July). The coldest parts of the country are Lika and Gorski Kotar where snowy forested climate is found at elevations above 1,200 metres (3,900 feet). The warmest areas of Croatia are at the Adriatic coast and especially in its immediate hinterland characterized by(SONY VGP-BPS13A/S battery) the Mediterranean climate, as the temperature highs are moderated by the sea. Consequently, temperature peaks are more pronounced in the continental areas—the lowest temperature of −35.5 °C (−31.9 °F) was recorded on 3 February 1919 in Čakovec, and the highest temperature of 42.4 °C (108.3 °F) was recorded on 5 July 1950 in Karlovac. (SONY VGP-BPS21A/B battery)
Mean annual precipitation ranges between 600 millimetres (24 inches) and 3,500 millimetres (140 inches) depending on geographic region and prevailing climate type. The least precipitation is recorded in the outer islands (Vis, Lastovo, Biševo, Svetac) and in the eastern parts of Slavonia, however in the latter case, it is mostly occurring during the growing season(SONY VGP-BPS21B battery). The maximum precipitation levels are observed on the Dinara mountain range and in Gorski kotar. Prevailing winds in the interior are light to moderate northeast or southwest, and in the coastal area prevailing winds are determined by local area features. Higher wind velocities are more often recorded in cooler months along the coast, generally as bura or less frequently as sirocco. The sunniest parts of the country are the outer islands(SONY VGP-BPS21 battery), Hvar and Korčula, where more than 2700 hours of sunshine are recorded per year, followed by the southern Adriatic Sea area in general, northern Adriatic coast, and Slavonia, all with more than 2000 hours of sunshine per year.
Kopački Rit nature park, one of the largest wetlands in Europe
Croatia can be subdivided between a number of ecoregions because of its climate and geomorphology, and the country is consequently one of the richest in Europe in terms of biodiversity(SONY VGP-BPS21/S battery). There are four types of biogeographical regions in Croatia—Mediterranean along the coast and in its immediate hinterland, Alpine in most of Lika and Gorski Kotar, Pannonian along Drava and Danube, and continental in the remaining areas. One of the most significant are karst habitats which include submerged karst, such as Zrmanja and Krka canyons and tufa barriers, as well as underground habitats. The karst geology harbours approximately 7,000 caves and pits(SONY VGP-BPS13AS battery), some of which are habitat of the only known aquatic cave vertebrate—the olm. Forests are also significantly present in the country, as they cover 2,490,000 hectares (6,200,000 acres) representing 44% of Croatian land surface. The other habitat types include wetlands, grasslands, bogs, fens, scrub habitats, coastal and marine habitats. In terms of phytogeography, Croatia is a part of the Boreal Kingdom and is a part of Illyrian and Central European provinces of the Circumboreal Region and the Adriatic province of the Mediterranean Region(SONY VGP-BPS13S battery). The World Wide Fund for Nature divides Croatia between three ecoregions—Pannonian mixed forests, Dinaric Mountains mixed forests and Illyrian deciduous forests.
Karst in National Park Sjeverni Velebit
There are 37,000 known species in Croatia, but their actual number is estimated to be between 50,000 and 100,000. The claim is supported by nearly 400 new taxa of invertebrates discovered in Croatia in the first half of the 2000s (decade) alone. There are more than a thousand endemic species, especially in Velebit and Biokovo mountains, Adriatic islands and karst rivers. Legislation protects 1,131 species. (SONY VGP-BPS13B/S battery) The most serious threat to them is loss and degradation of habitats. A further problem is presented by appearance of invasive alien species, especially Caulerpa taxifolia algae. The invasive algae are regularly monitored and removed to protect the benthic habitat. Indigenous sorts of cultivated plants and breeds of domesticated animals are also numerous. Those include five breeds of horses, five breeds of cattle, eight breeds of sheep, two breeds of pigs and a poultry breed(SONY VGP-BPS13B/G battery). Even the indigenous breeds include nine endangered or critically endangered ones.
There are 444 protected areas of Croatia, encompassing 9% of the country. Those include 8 national parks in Croatia, 2 strict reserves and 10 nature parks. The most famous protected area and the oldest national park in Croatia is the Plitvice Lakes National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Velebit Nature Park is a part of the UNESCO Man and the Biosphere Programme(SONY VGP-BPS14 battery). The strict and special reserves, as well as the national and nature parks, are managed and protected by the central government, while other protected areas are managed by counties. In 2005, the National Ecological Network was set up, as the first step in preparation of the EU accession and joining of the Natura 2000 network.
Banski dvori, former seat of Croatian bans and current seat of the government
Croatia is a unitary democratic parliamentary republic(SONY VGP-BPL14 battery). With the collapse of the ruling communist party in SFR Yugoslavia, Croatia adopted its present constitution in 1990 and organised its first multi-party elections. It declared independence on 8 October 1991 leading to the breakup of Yugoslavia and the country was internationally recognised by the United Nations in 1992. Under its 1990 constitution, Croatia operated a semi-presidential system until 2000 when it switched to a parliamentary system. (SONY VGP-BPS14/B battery)Government powers in Croatia are divided into legislative, executive and judiciary powers. The legal system of Croatia is civil law, strongly influenced, as is the institutional framework, by the legal heritage of Austria-Hungary. By the time EU accession negotiations were completed on 30 June 2010, Croatian legislation was fully harmonised with the Community acquis. (SONY VGP-BPS14/S battery)
The President of the Republic (Croatian: Predsjednik Republike) is the head of state, directly elected to a five-year term and is limited by the Constitution to a maximum of two terms. In addition to being the commander in chief of the armed forces, the president has the procedural duty of appointing the prime minister with the consent of the parliament, and has some influence on foreign policy. (SONY VGP-BPS14B battery) The most recent presidential elections were held on 10 January 2010, when Ivo Josipović won. He took the oath of office on 18 February 2010.
The government (Croatian: Vlada) is headed by the prime minister, who has four deputy prime ministers and 17 ministers in charge of particular sectors of activity. The executive branch is responsible for proposing legislation and a budget, executing the laws, and guiding the foreign and internal policies of the republic. Government's official residence is at Banski dvori. (SONY VGP-BPS22 battery) Since 23 December 2011, the prime minister of the government has been Zoran Milanović.
The parliament (Croatian: Sabor) is a unicameral legislative body. A second chamber, the House of Counties, set up in 1993 pursuant to the 1990 Constitution, was abolished in 2001. The number of Sabor members can vary from 100 to 160; they are all elected by popular vote to serve four-year terms. The sessions of the Sabor take place from 15 January to 15 July, and from 15 September to 15 December. (SONY VGP-BPS22 battery)The two largest political parties in Croatia are the Croatian Democratic Union and the Social Democratic Party of Croatia.
Croatia has a three-tiered judicial system, made up of the Supreme Court, County courts, and Municipal courts. The Constitutional Court rules on matters regarding the Constitution. In addition there are misdemeanour courts, commercial courts and administrative courts. Law enforcement in Croatia is the responsibility of the Croatian police force(SONY VGP-BPS18 battery), which is under the control of the Ministry of the Interior. In recent years, the force has been undergoing a reform with assistance from international agencies, including the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) since its mission to Croatia began on 18 April 1996(SONY VGP-BPS22/A battery).
Croatia was first subdivided into counties in the Middle Ages. The divisions changed over time to reflect losses of territory to Ottoman conquest and subsequent liberation of the same territory, changes of political status of Dalmatia, Dubrovnik and Istria. Traditional division of the country into counties was abolished in the 1920s, when the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes and subsequent Kingdom of Yugoslavia introduced oblasts and banovinas respectively. (SONY VGP-BPS22A battery) Communist ruled Croatia, as a constituent part of post-WWII Yugoslavia, abolished earlier divisions and introduced municipalities, subdividing Croatia into approximately one hundred municipalities. Counties were reintroduced in 1992 legislation, significantly altered in terms of territory relative to the pre-1920s subdivisions: In 1918, the Transleithanian part of Croatia was divided into eight counties with their seats in Bjelovar, Gospić, Ogulin, Požega, Vukovar, Varaždin, Osijek and Zagreb, and the 1992 legislation established 14 counties in the same territory(SONY Vaio VGN-CR120E/W battery).
Since the counties were re-established in 1992, Croatia is divided into 20 counties and the capital city of Zagreb, the latter having the authority and legal status of a county and a city at the same time. Borders of the counties changed in some instances since, with the latest revision taking place in 2006. The counties subdivide into 127 cities and 429 municipalities. Nomenclature of Territorial Units for Statistics (NUTS) division of Croatia is performed in several tiers(SONY Vaio VGN-CR120E/R battery). NUTS 1 level places the entire country in a single unit, while there are three NUTS 2 regions. Those are Northwest Croatia, Central and Eastern (Pannonian) Croatia and Adriatic Croatia. The latter encompasses all the counties along the Adriatic coast. The Northwest Croatia includes the city of Zagreb, Zagreb, Krapina-Zagorje, Varaždin, Koprivnica-Križevci and Međimurje counties, and the Central and Eastern (Pannonian) Croatia includes the remaining areas—Bjelovar-Bilogora(SONY Vaio VGN-CR120E/P battery), Virovitica-Podravina, Požega-Slavonia, Brod-Posavina, Osijek-Baranja, Vukovar-Syrmia, Karlovac and Sisak-Moslavina counties. Individual counties and the city of Zagreb also represent NUTS 3 level subdivision units in Croatia. The NUTS Local administrative unit divisions are two-tiered. LAU 1 divisions match the counties and the city of Zagreb in effect making those the same as NUTS 3 units, while LAU 2 subdivisions correspond to the cities and municipalities of Croatia(SONY Vaio VGN-CR120E/L battery).
Croatia has established diplomatic relations with 174 countries. As of 2009, Croatia maintains a network of 51 embassies, 24 consulates and eight permanent diplomatic missions abroad. Furthermore, there are 52 foreign embassies and 69 consulates in the Republic of Croatia in addition to offices of international organizations such as the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, International Organization for Migration(SONY Vaio VGN-CR120E battery), OSCE, World Bank, World Health Organization (WHO), International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), United Nations Development Programme, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and UNICEF. In 2009, the Croatian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and European Integration employed 1,381 personnel and expended 648.2 million kuna (€86.4 million). Stated aims of Croatian foreign policy include enhancing relations with neighbouring countries(SONY Vaio VGN-CR120 battery), developing international cooperation and promotion of the Croatian economy and Croatia itself.
Since 2003, Croatian foreign policy has focused on achieving the strategic goal of becoming a member state of the European Union (EU). As of December 2011, Croatia has completed EU accession negotiations and signed an EU accession treaty on 9 December 2011. Croatian EU membership is scheduled to start on 1 July 2013, representing the end of a process started in 2001 by signing of the Stabilisation and Association Agreement and Croatian application for the EU membership in 2003. (SONY Vaio VGN-CR11H/B battery) A recurring obstacle to the negotiations was Croatia's ICTY cooperation record and Slovenian blocking of the negotiations because of Croatia–Slovenia border disputes. The latter was resolved through an Arbitration Agreement of 4 November 2009, approved by national parliaments and a referendum in Slovenia. (SONY Vaio VGN-CR116E battery)
Another strategic Croatian foreign policy goal for the 2000s (decade) was NATO membership. Croatia was included in the Partnership for Peace in 2000, invited to NATO membership in 2008 and formally joined the alliance on 1 April 2009. Croatia became a member of the United Nations Security Council for the 2008–2009 term, assuming presidency in December 2008. The country is preparing to join the Schengen Area by 2015. (SONY Vaio VGN-CR116 battery)
Croatian Air Force and US Navy aircraft participate in multinational training
Croatian Armed Forces (CAF) consist of the Army, Navy and Air Force branches in addition to the Education and Training Command and Support Command. The CAF is headed by the General Staff, which reports to the Defence Minister, who in turn reports to the President of Croatia. According to the constitution, the President is commander-in-chief of the armed forces and in case of immediate threat during wartime he issues orders directly to the General Staff. (SONY Vaio VGN-CR115E battery)
Following the 1991–95 war defence spending and CAF size have been in constant decline. As of 2005 military spending was an estimated 2.39% of the country's GDP, which placed Croatia 64th in a ranking of all countries. Since 2005 the budget was kept below 2% of GDP, down from the record high of 11.1% in 1994. Traditionally relying on a large number of conscripts, CAF also went through a period of reforms focused on downsizing(SONY Vaio VGN-CR115 battery)
, restructuring and professionalisation in the years prior to Croatia's accession to NATO in April 2009. According to a presidential decree issued in 2006 the CAF is set to employ 18,100 active duty military personnel, 3,000 civilians and 2,000 voluntary conscripts between the ages of 18 and 30 in peacetime.
Compulsory conscription was abolished in January 2008. Until 2008 military service was compulsory for men at age 18 and conscripts served six-month tours of duty, reduced in 2001 from the earlier scheme of nine-month conscription tours. Conscientious objectors could instead opt for an eight-month civilian service. (SONY Vaio VGN-CR110 battery)
As of April 2011 the Croatian military had 120 members stationed in foreign countries as part of United Nations-led international peacekeeping forces, including 95 serving as part of the UNDOF in the Golan Heights. As of 2011 an additional 350 troops serve as part of the NATO-led ISAF force in Afghanistan and another 20 with the KFOR in Kosovo(Sony VAIO VGN-FZ11S battery).
Croatia also has a significant military industry sector which exported around US$120 million worth of military equipment and armament in 2010. Croatian-made weapons and vehicles used by CAF include the standard sidearm HS2000 manufactured by HS Produkt and the M-84D battle tank designed by the Đuro Đaković factory. Uniforms and helmets worn by CAF soldiers are also locally produced and successfully marketed to other countries(Sony VAIO VGN-FZ15T battery).
Croatia has a high-income market economy. International Monetary Fund data shows that Croatian nominal GDP stood at $63.842 billion, or $14,457 per capita, at the same time in 2011 while purchasing power parity GDP was $80.334 billion or $18,191 per capita. According to Eurostat data, Croatian PPS GDP per capita stood at 61% of the EU average in 2010. Real GDP growth in 2007 was 6.0 per cent. (Sony VAIO VGN-FZ15G battery) The average net salary of a Croatian worker in June 2012 was 5,492 kuna (US$ 912) per month. In 2007, the International Labour Organization-defined unemployment rate stood at 9.1%, after falling steadily from 14.7% in 2002. The registered unemployment rate was higher, though, standing at 13.7% in December 2008.
In 2010, economic output was dominated by the service sector which accounted for 66% of GDP, followed by the industrial sector with 27.2% and agriculture accounting for 6.8% of GDP. (Sony VAIO VGN-FZ4000 battery) According to 2004 data, 2.7% of the workforce were employed in agriculture, 32.8% by industry and 64.5% in services. The industrial sector is dominated by shipbuilding, food processing, pharmaceuticals, information technology, biochemical and timber industry. In 2010, Croatian exports were valued at 64.9 billion kuna (€8.65 billion) with 110.3 billion kuna (€14.7 billion) worth of imports. The largest trading partner is the European Union. (Sony VAIO VGN-FZ460E battery)
Privatization and the drive toward a market economy had barely begun under the new Croatian Government when war broke out in 1991. As a result of the war, the economic infrastructure sustained massive damage, particularly the revenue-rich tourism industry. From 1989 to 1993, the GDP fell 40.5%. The Croatian state still controls a significant part of the economy, with government expenditures accounting for as much as 40% of GDP. (Sony VAIO VGN-FZ440N battery) A backlogged judiciary system, combined with inefficient public administration, especially on issues of land ownership and corruption, are particular concerns. In 2011 the country has been ranked 66th by Transparency International with a Corruption Perceptions Index of 4.0. Another problem is a large and growing national debt, which has reached over €34 billion or 89.1% of the nation's GDP(Sony VAIO VGN-FZ440E battery).
Zlatni Rat beach on Brač Island, one of foremost spots of tourism in Croatia
Tourism dominates the Croatian service sector and accounts for up to 20% of Croatian GDP. Annual tourist industry income for 2011 was estimated at €6.61 billion. Its positive effects are felt throughout the economy of Croatia in terms of increased business volume observed in retail business, processing industry orders and summer seasonal employment. The industry is considered an export business, because it significantly reduces the country's external trade imbalance. Since the conclusion of the Croatian War of Independence(Sony VAIO VGN-FZ430E battery), the tourist industry has grown rapidly, recording a fourfold rise in tourist numbers, with more than 10 million tourists each year. The most numerous are tourists from Germany, Slovenia, Austria and the Czech Republic as well as Croatia itself. Length of a tourist stay in Croatia averages 4.9 days.
The bulk of the tourist industry is concentrated along the Adriatic Sea coast. Opatija was the first holiday resort since the middle of the 19th century. By the 1890s, it became one of the most significant European health resorts. (Sony VAIO VGN-FZ280E battery) Later a large number of resorts sprang up along the coast and numerous islands, offering services ranging from mass tourism to catering and various niche markets, the most significant being nautical tourism, as there are numerous marinas with more than 16 thousand berths, cultural tourism relying on appeal of medieval coastal cities and numerous cultural events taking place during the summer. Inland areas offer mountain resorts, agrotourism and spas(Sony VAIO VGN-FZ190 battery). Zagreb is also a significant tourist destination, rivaling major coastal cities and resorts. Croatia boasts unpolluted sea nature reflected through numerous nature reserves and 116 Blue Flag beaches. Croatia is ranked as the 18th most popular tourist destination in the world.
The highlight of Croatia's recent infrastructure developments is its rapidly developed motorway network, largely built in the late 1990s and especially in the 2000s (decade). By September 2011(Sony VAIO VGN-FZ150E battery), Croatia had completed more than 1,100 kilometres (680 miles) of motorways, connecting Zagreb to most other regions and following various European routes and four Pan-European corridors. The busiest motorways are the A1, connecting Zagreb to Split and the A3, passing east–west through northwest Croatia and Slavonia. A widespread network of state roads in Croatia acts as motorway feeder roads while connecting all major settlements in the country(Sony VAIO VGN-FZ160 battery). The high quality and safety levels of the Croatian motorway network were tested and confirmed by several EuroTAP and EuroTest programs.
Croatia has an extensive rail network spanning 2,722 kilometres (1,691 miles), including 985 kilometres (612 miles) of electrified railways and 254 kilometres (158 miles) of double track railways. The most significant railways in Croatia are found within the Pan-European transport corridors Vb and X connecting Rijeka to Budapest and Ljubljana to Belgrade, both via Zagreb. All rail services are operated by Croatian Railways. (Sony VAIO VGN-FZ260E battery)
There are international airports in Zagreb, Zadar, Split, Dubrovnik, Rijeka, Osijek and Pula. As of January 2011, Croatia complies with International Civil Aviation Organization aviation safety standards and the Federal Aviation Administration upgraded it to Category 1 rating.
Port of Rijeka, the largest Croatian seaport
The busiest cargo seaport in Croatia is the Port of Rijeka and the busiest passenger ports are Split and Zadar. In addition to those(Sony VAIO VGN-FZ140E battery), a large number of minor ports serve an extensive system of ferries connecting numerous islands and coastal cities in addition to ferry lines to several cities in Italy. The largest river port is Vukovar, located on the Danube, representing the nation's outlet to the Pan-European transport corridor VII.
There are 610 kilometres (380 miles) of crude oil pipelines in Croatia, connecting the Port of Rijeka oil terminal with refineries in Rijeka and Sisak, as well as several transhipment terminals. The system has a capacity of 20 million tonnes per year. (Sony VAIO VGN-FZ11L battery) The natural gas transportation system comprises 2,113 kilometres (1,313 miles) of trunk and regional natural gas pipelines, and more than 300 associated structures, connecting production rigs, the Okoli natural gas storage facility, 27 end-users and 37 distribution systems.
Croatian production of energy sources covers 85% of nationwide natural gas demand and 19% of oil demand(Sony VAIO VGN-FZ11Z battery). In 2008, 47.6% of Croatia's primary energy production structure comprised use of natural gas (47.7%), crude oil (18.0%), fuel wood (8.4%), hydro power (25.4%) and other renewable energy sources (0.5%). In 2009, net total electrical power production in Croatia reached 12,725 GWh and Croatia imported 28.5% of its electric power energy needs. The bulk of Croatian imports are supplied by the Krško Nuclear Power Plant, 50% owned by Hrvatska elektroprivreda, providing 15% of Croatia's electricity. (Sony VAIO VGN-FZ11M battery)
Main articles: Demographics of Croatia and Croats
With its population of 4.29 million in 2011, Croatia ranks 125th by population in the world. Its population density stands at 75.9 inhabitants per square kilometre. The overall life expectancy in Croatia at birth is 75.7 years. The total fertility rate of 1.5 children per mother, is one of the lowest in the world. Since 1991, Croatia's death rate has continuously exceeded its birth rate. (Sony VAIO VGN-FZ18M battery) Since the late 1990s, there has been a positive net migration into Croatia, reaching a level of more than 7,000 net immigrants in 2006. The Croatian Bureau of Statistics forecast that the population may even shrink to 3.1 million by 2051, depending on actual birth rate and the level of net migration. The population of Croatia rose steadily from 2.1 million in 1857 until 1991, when it peaked at 4.7 million, with exception of censuses taken in 1921 and 1948, i.e. following two world wars. (Sony VAIO VGN-FZ18 battery) The natural growth rate of the population is currently negative with the demographic transition completed in the 1970s. In recent years, the Croatian government has been pressured each year to add 40% to work permit quotas for foreign workers. In accordance with its immigration policy, Croatia is trying to entice emigrants to return.
Religion in Croatia(Sony VAIO VGN-FZ210CE battery)
The population decrease was also a result of the Croatian War of Independence. During the war, large sections of the population were displaced and emigration increased. In 1991, in predominantly Serb areas, more than 400,000 Croats and other non-Serbs were either removed from their homes by the Croatian Serb forces or fled the violence. During the final days of the war in 1995, more than 120,000 Serbs, (Sony VAIO VGN-FZ31S battery) and perhaps as many as 200,000, fled the country before arrival of Croatian forces during Operation Storm. Within a decade following the end of the war, only 117,000 Serb refugees returned out of 300,000 displaced during the entire war. Most of Croatia's remaining Serbs never lived in areas occupied in the Croatian War of Independence. Serbs have been only partially re-settled in the regions they previously inhabited while some of the settlements previously inhabited by Serbs were settled by Croat refugees from Bosnia and Herzegovina(Sony VAIO VGN-FZ31Z battery), mostly from Republika Srpska.
Croatia is inhabited mostly by Croats (89.6%) and is ethnically the most homogeneous of the six countries of former Yugoslavia. Minority groups include Serbs (4.5%), Bosniaks, Hungarians, Italians, Slovenes, Germans, Czechs, Romani people and others (5.9%). The main religions of Croatia are Roman Catholicism 88%, Orthodox Christianity 4.4%, other Christianity 0.4%, Islam 1.3%, other unspecified 0.9%, and none 5.2%(Sony VAIO VGN-FZ31E battery)
Croatian language is the official language of Croatia, and it is expected to become the 24th official language of the European Union upon its accession in 2013. Minority languages are in official use in local government units where more than a third of population consists of national minorities or where local legislation defines so. Those languages are Czech, Hungarian, Italian, Ruthenian, Serbian and Slovakian. According to the 2001 Census(Sony VAIO VGN-FZ31J battery), 96% of citizens of Croatia declared Croatian as their native language, 1% declared Serbian as their native language, while no other language is represented in Croatia by more than 0.5% of native speakers among population of Croatia. Croatian is a South Slavic language. Most Croatian vocabulary is derived from the Slavic branch of the Indo-European language family. Croatian is written using the Latin alphabet(Sony VAIO VGN-FZ31M battery). Croatian has three major dialects, with Shtokavian dialect used as the standard Croatian and Chakavian and Kajkavian dialects distinguished by their lexicon, phonology, and syntax.
From 1961 to 1991, the official language was Serbo-Croatian. Even during socialist rule, Croats often referred to their language as Croato-Serbian (instead of Serbo-Croat
A 2009 survey revealed that 78% of Croatians claim knowledge of at least one foreign language. According to a survey ordered by the European commission in 2005, 49% of Croatians speak English as the second language, 34% speak German, and 14% speak Italian. French and Russian are spoken by 4% each, and 2% of Croatians speak Spanish(Sony VAIO VGN-FZ410 battery). A substantial proportion of Slovenes (59%) have a certain level of knowledge of Croatian language.
Literacy in Croatia stands at 98.1 percent. A worldwide study about the quality of living in different countries published by Newsweek in August 2010 ranked the Croatian education system at 22nd, to share the position with Austria. Primary education in Croatia starts at the age of six or seven and consists of eight grades. In 2007 a law was passed to increase free, noncompulsory education until 18 years of age(Sony VAIO VGN-FZ21 battery). Compulsory education consists of eight grades of elementary school. Secondary education is provided by gymnasiums and vocational schools. As of 2010, there are 2,131 elementary schools and 713 schools providing various forms of secondary education. Primary and secondary education are also available in languages of recognised minorities in Croatia, where classes are held in Czech, Hungarian, Italian, Serbian and German languages(Sony VAIO VGN-FZ21S battery).
There are 84 elementary level and 47 secondary level music and art schools, as well as 92 schools for disabled children and youth and 74 schools for adults. Nationwide leaving exams (Croatian: državna matura) were introduced for secondary education students in the school year 2009–2010. It comprises three compulsory subjects (Croatian language, mathematics, and a foreign language) and optional subjects and is a prerequisite for university education. (Sony VAIO VGN-FZ21M battery)